Back for its third year, the Bradley County Parks and Recreation Chick-fil-A All-Star Basketball Tournament will be getting things going a day earlier this time around at Ocoee Middle.
This year, the tournament has brought in former Lady Vol Chamique Holdsclaw to be a part of the weekend’s festivities.
Holdsclaw played for the University of Tennessee from 1995-99, helping lead the Lady Vols to three consecutive championships (1996-1998) and was also a part of the 1998 team that went 39-0.
Along with being a part of the 2000 Olympic gold medal winning women’s national team, Holdsclaw also spent a total of nine seasons playing in the WNBA.
Due to the success of the past two years, the All-Star Basketball Tournament has added an extra day, and will get the weekend started off at Ocoee Middle School on Thursday with various skill competitions.
“Basically we’re doing the same kind of thing as last year, but with a little more hype this year,” said tournament director Bartlee Norton. “I don’t like to refer to this as a tournament; this is an experience. We try to go all-out for these kids and give them an opportunity to play on a platform with kids who they wouldn’t normally play with. It gives them the chance to develop friendships with others.”
Beginning at 6 p.m. with free-throw, hot-shot and 3-point shot competitions, the skill competitions will be capped off by a fourth- and fifth-grade boys and girls slam dunk competition being judged by the returning Paul “Showtime” Gaffney of Harlem Globetrotters fame.
A coaches’ game closes out the evening, which is slated to include both Gaffney and Holdsclaw, according to Norton.
Opening ceremonies begin on Friday at 5:30 p.m., with Holdsclaw speaking to the players and fans at 6 p.m. and the actual tournament games beginning at 6:30 p.m.
According to Norton, a total of 231 kids ranging from second grade to fifth grade from all of the local elementary schools will be participating in the All-Star Tournament.
On Saturday, games will resume at 8 a.m. and run all day with the last game of the day beginning at 9:15 p.m..
At 11:30 a.m. on Sunday a church service, which offers free biscuits and beverages and will be led by the FCA’s Robert Green, begins the day.
Games resume at 12:30 p.m., with the girls’ championship games slated to begin at 4:15 p.m. and the boys’ championship games following at 5:15 p.m.
The cost of admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the building of outdoor basketball courts throughout Cleveland and Bradley County.
“The point behind this is to give back to the schools by promoting health and wellness,” Norton explained. “I’ve teamed up with Jonathan Cantrell of Caldwell Paving and have a goal to build every school in the city and county an outdoor basketball court. The court must be allowed to be an open court for the community as well. First one we built was at Taylor Elementary School. We are set to break ground in the spring at Arnold Elementary School.”
A complete schedule of events can be viewed at www.bradleyparks.com.